FREDERICKTOWN – A diligent effort to attack through the paint helped the Arcadia Valley girls basketball team complete a gradual second-half comeback on Tuesday night.
The second-seeded Lady Tigers crashed the boards to create extra shots, and erased a 12-point deficit to outlast Perryville 43-37 in pool play at the Fredericktown Tournament.
Kristen Williams won her debut as head coach of the school where she graduated in 2015, but only after watching her squad weather its share of frustrating moments.
Junior standout Gracee Smith netted a team-high 13 points despite a rough start, and senior point guard Katie Whited posted a double-double after a determined second half.
Whited put Arcadia Valley (1-0) ahead to stay 35-34 after driving past a defender to finish from close range with 2:27 to play, and compiled 11 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Kirsten Day provided eight points with 11 rebounds, and guard Jaidyn Phelps collected nine of her team-leading 12 rebounds before intermission.
Smith made a layup off an outlet pass from Whited to build a three-possession margin during the final minute after Day sank a crucial pair of free throws.
The Lady Tigers trailed 31-19 at halftime, but owned the third quarter in 11-0 shutout fashion after the lethal perimeter shooting of Perryville (1-1) suddenly turned ice cold.
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Leah Buerck capped the contest by swishing her seventh 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play after the Lady Pirates unofficially missed 22 of their previous 23 attempts from the field.
Lilee Jones rattled in a triple as the third concluded to make it 31-30. Day began the stanza with a putback and coaxed in an ensuing jumper from the lane.
Whited personally forced four Perryville turnovers down the stretch, and found Phelps open for a baseline jumper before adding the go-ahead basket.
Perryville hoped to spring an upset as the bottom seed in the six-team format after falling to Naylor on Monday, and connected a remarkable nine times from the perimeter in the first half.
Whited fired a diagonal dart to Hannah Helvey for a layup early in the second quarter, then split two defenders on a drive to give the Lady Tigers a 19-17 edge.
But the Lady Pirates countered with a 14-0 run. Buerck drained consecutive threes ahead of missed AV layups, and two outside strikes from Ciara Ehlers followed.
Buerck tallied 23 points overall, and Ehlers ended with 11. Katie Winschel had the only other field goal for Perryville, trading 3-pointers with Whited in the first quarter.
Arcadia Valley will face Naylor on Thursday for a spot in the championship game.